John Fennelly, Lead Writer
The Giants wrap up their mandatory veteran minicamp this morning with a 10:00 AM practice. They will then break for the next month or so, reassembling back here the third week of July for training camp.
They play their first preseason game on Aug 3rd in Canton, Ohio vs the Buffalo Bills in the annual Hall of Fame game. Both the Giants (Michael Strahan) and the Bills (Andre Reed) have players being inducted this year.
Yesterday’s session was highlighted by the return of rookie WR Odell Beckham Jr’s return to the field. Beckham had been sidelined with a hamstring strain and was thought to be unavailable until training camp. He scored a TD on a short pass from backup QB Ryan Nassib.
The cornerback play has looked noticeably better so far this summer. Free agent Zack Bowman has looked solid and had a pick yesterday off Eli Manning, but the real improvement comes in the form of high-ticket free agent signee Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, who promises to raise the level of play in the Giants’ defensive backfield. He expounded on how good he thinks the secondary can be this year.
“First off, without the safeties playing and moving you up, you know just learning off Antrel and Stevie, I think we’re going to be real good,” said DRC. “They’re very vocal, they definitely have experience back there and they can help us learn so I think we’ll be good.”
As good and as well-travelled as DRC is, he still has to go through the rigor of learning a new defensive scheme. He spoke about his approach to that process:
“You just try to fit your style of play into the defense and make it work for you. I think that’s the hardest thing in coming over here and just learning this system and the scheme and the things that they put in.”
Tom Coughlin said Wednesday that second-year DT Jon Hankins has looked “solid” so far in camp. The coach was asked about Hankins having to fill big shoes in Linval Joseph, who left for Minnesota via free agency.
“It’s his turn,” said Coughlin. “That’s why he’s here.”
Joseph was the Giants second-round pick in the 2013 draft and the team expects him to live up to that standard. Asked about where Hankins has improved the most, the coach revealed it was simply fundamentals.
“You’re not going to see anything really to talk about until you get the pads on,” Coughlin said. “There’s knowledge of what we’re asking him to do, his ability to be in the right spot at the right time, his intelligence. All of those things are positive.”
Two low-key signings this offseason to help bolster the defense were DE Robert Ayers (Denver) and CB Walter Thurmond (Seattle). Both players are coming off Super Bowl seasons. Coughlin has liked what he has seen thus far out of these two:
“Both, throughout the course of our work on the field, have stood out from time to time and both are solid players that will contribute.”
Why is third-year OL Brandon Mosley getting first crack at RG in Chris Snee’s absence? It’s no secret to Coughlin. Mosley has paid his dues and is now “next man up.”
“There are a lot of guys that play in there, but he deserved the opportunity that’s been given,” the coach explained. “He’s been in that classroom for any number of years and been with us for a long time, got an opportunity last year and was not able to take full advantage of it, got hurt right away in the game in Detroit. He’s a big, strong kid that’s played at the highest level in college, so we’re counting on him to be a young player that’s going to develop and help us.”